Friday, May 30, 2008

Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes & Feta

This is a refreshing, light and healthful dish, and so pretty too. It looked like Xmas in a dish with the red tomatoes, green beans and the feta cheese. I made this for our BBQ on Memorial Day to keep things light and healthy along with the grilled chicken. I highly recommend trying this. I can't wait to make it again!!!!

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp sugar
1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
6 oz feta cheese
Salt & Pepper

6 tblspn olive oil
3 tblspn white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 450. Put the cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet and sprinkle the sugar, salt and pepper over. Roast for 20 minutes, then let cool. Meanwhile, cook the beans in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Make the dressing by whisking together the oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Drain the beans and immediately pour the vinaigrette over and mix well. When cool, stir in the roasted tomatoes and feta cheese. Serve chilled. 

Friday Foto

Tristan, with his cousins Jordan & Adam, my sister Andrea's children. The shot was taken last year in Ft. Lauderdale while we were visiting our other sis Lauren. Tristan's face cracks me up and I can't help but think of Michael Keaton in Multiplicity. "I want pizza."

Speaking of Jordan & Adam, Andrea and I try to call each other once a week so the kids could talk. Last night it was so cute seeing Tristan on the phone having what seemed to be an adult conversation. After a few minutes, Tristan says with a serious expression "Adam, put Jordan on the phone now." I guess that's better than his usual "ok, i done talkin to you now."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Black Bean Salsa

From Paula Deen, I just made this for the 1st time on Sunday for our Memorial Day BBQ yesterday and it was a hit! My two biggest recommendations - make the day before so the flavors marry and the juices come out to develop a more salsa-like consistency. And add some hot sauce! Without these two the consistency would be like corn and beans in a bowl with nothing to bind them together. Also, I did not have to add lime juice again before serving. I halved the recipe below for 6 people and made two bowls, one spicier than the other. They were both gone within an hour! Serve with tortilla chips like Scoops, flaxseed chips or blue corn tortilla chips.

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (17-ounce) package frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 large avocado, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
1/8 to 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Hot sauce

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Cover and chill overnight. Taste and add salt, pepper, or more lime juice as necessary. Serve as appetizer or with chicken breast as a main meal.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hash Brown Quiche

I made this quiche a few weeks ago and then froze it. At the last minute I decided to pop this in the oven at 350 for 40-45 minutes, and served it with a side spinach salad. I now promise myself to always have a quiche in the freezer!! This is the original recipe, but my modifications are in parentheses. The hash browns as the crust is a wonderful idea so I am confident anything you decide to put in would be delicious.

3 cups shredded frozen hash browns (I used 4 to get a better crust and have no gaps)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup diced cooked ham (I used tomatoes instead because I didn't want any meat but I will try this next time)
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach (I added this, was not in original recipe)
1/2 cup diced green onions
1 cup shredded Cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Gently press the drained hash browns between paper towels to dry them as best as possible. In a 9-inch pie plate, toss the hash browns with the melted butter into the plate. Press them into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and starting to crisp.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. When the hash brown crust is ready pour the egg mixture over it and return to the oven.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes until the quiche is light golden brown on top and puffed. I had to cover the edges at some point so hash browns didn't get too brown. I didn't dollop with sour cream but next time I sure will!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday's Foto

This was one of the 1st pictures Terry took of me when we started dating back in 2001. Young, tan and broke but happy 'cuz I was falling in love.
I never took good photos most of my adult life because of that chin thing but I always liked this one. My hair was a bit orangy from my time in the sun and pool (and the peroxide didn't help).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Linguine with Spicy Red Clam Sauce

This is one of my husband's favorite dishes. These days, I make it extra spicy for him by adding at least 3x the amount of jalapenos than the recipe calls for below and I also do not seed the jalapenos.

WARNING: About 6 years ago I didn't realize touching the inside of the peppers was dangerous so there I was taking out all the seeds with my fingers in a rush. My fingernails were just digging away. It wasn't long before I knew something was terribly wrong & I was going back & forth to the kitchen sink rinsing them under cold water. After an hour, I felt like my hands were being forcefully held 3 inches from an open flame. The only reason we didn't go to the emergency room was because I didn't want to take my hands out of the pans of buttermilk for a second. Plus, we kept hoping the pain would go away. There I was with my hands in the pans a couple of hours later trying to rest my head on the table to get some sleep. Eventually, while Terry fell asleep I managed to get my hands completely covered in buttermilk soaked washclothes & put them in ziploc baggies to keep the moisture in. And there I lay on the bedroom floor so as not to soak the bed. I still remember what I was wearing to this day. I woke at 4am still in severe discomfort but noticing an improvement. It wasn't until 6am, nearly 12 hours later, that the pain totally subsided. NEED I SAY - do not use your fingers to seed the jalapenos. Use gloves or just chop up with a knife and throw it all in the dish.

8 oz cooked linguine (I would like to try this with whole grain whole wheat pasta)
2 cans (6 1/2 oz) minced clams, drained with liquid reserved
1/4 cup olive oil
3-5 garlic cloves
1 can 28 oz whole Italian style tomatoes, drained and chopped
1-3 small red jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped (I use up to 8 with seeds for the dish but that's HOT)
1 tblspn parsley
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oil. Cook garlic in oil, stirring frequently until soft. Stir in tomatoes and jalapenos. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in clam liquid. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in clams, parsley and salt. Cover and simmer 30 minutes (if short on time, you can cut this time in half). Pour sauce over linguine.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Golden Crushed Potatoes

This recipe is so unique and interesting I had to try it, and I am so glad I did. Who woulda thought to just crush a potato. Sure it would be easier to bake a potato and be done with it but baked potatoes always call out to me "more butter and sour cream please." Because these little guys are crushed and part of the inside exposed it just makes them a little crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. With just a little sea salt and pepper the taste goes a long way. When you're a potato lover, it doesn't take much I think.
8 small gold creamer potatoes (like Yukon gold)
Cooking spray
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

You can steam the potatoes, whole, for 20 minutes, until they are still firm yet easily pierced with a fork but I just microwaved them in segments of 5 minutes and also turn them over, just until I could pierce with a fork like the recipe states.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place a potato on the tray, cut a small cross about 1/4-inch deep into the potato and crush the potato with the back of a wooden spoon to flatten into a patty about 1/2-inch thick. Try to crush it just enough so it stays together with most of its skin intact. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

Brush the tops of the potatoes with the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper (maybe even some garlic powder) and bake until crisp and golden, about 20 minutes.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Savory Baked Brie in Puff Pastry

This is a simple but elegant looking appetizer. I've made it quite a few times and it's always a hit. Since I couldn't find a picture of it where the pastry only came to the edges as this one does, and couldn't stand the thought of not posting one at all I had to put a puff pic. Puff pastry is super easy to work with and I use it often, unlike phyllo dough which scares me :)

(1) sheet puff pastry defrosted
(1) 6 inch round Brie
1/2 cup green olives
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1 clove garlic
1 tblsp olive oil
1/2 cup spinach leaves (I always leave the stems on)

Place the puff pastry sheet in a baking dish. Remove the white skin from the top of the Brie. Place the Brie in center of the pastry and crimp the edges of pastry together to form a lip around the edge of the Brie. You are not completely covering the top of the Brie, only the edges.
Combine olives, parsely, garlic, oil and spinach in a food processor until finely chopped but not a paste. Spread on top of the Brie. Bake for 10-15 minutes until pastry is golden. Serve with crackers, bread or fruit.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Texas Hot Steaks

For me, a steak is like french fries, needs nothing on it. No ketchup, nothing!!! Normally, I only salt, pepper and garlic my steak before grilling and that's it. But for times when I just want a slight change and a little heat, this recipe does the trick. Got it from a magazine and made it quite a few times.

(2) 12-14 oz Ribeye Steaks
(1) bottle cheap beer
(1) Small 4oz jar of sliced jalapeno peppers plus juices
(6) garlic cloves crushed
Kosher salt and coarse black pepper
_________________________________________________________ Place steaks in glass dish. Pour beer over steaks, add garlic, peppers and juice from jar. Marinate at least 6 hours, turn occasionally. Salt and pepper steaks before grilling to your liking.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday's Foto


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cheesy Shrimp on Grits Toast

Cheesy shrimp? Easy enough. Grits Toast? That's when people go, Huh? Well, they're pictured to the left. I made this appie a couple of weeks ago. It's from Paula Deen, who I love. And these were wonderful. I love that they're so different from the norm, and fun to make!! Even if you're not a big grits person you may love these because of the broth and parmesan cheese in them.

I always read the reviews on the Food Network because they tend to screw up on the written recipe so I was thankful when some people caught the mistake that instead of 1/2 lb shrimp printed in the recipe Paula actually used 1 1/2 lb. Big difference! I also added some garlic and hot sauce to the cream cheese mixture because some said it was bland.

3 cans chicken broth
1 1/3 cups quick cooking grits
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 tsp salt
2 tblsp butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tblsp half and half
1/2 cup grated Italian cheese blend
1 tsp chopped parsley (I did not use fresh)
1 1/2 lb shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined and chopped
Garlic powder and a couple dashes of hot sauce (my additions)
1/2 cup grated cheddar

Pre-heat over to 400. Bring broth to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in grits, return to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir occasionally. Stir in parmesan and salt. Remove from heat. Spoon grits into a greased 9 x 13 dish. Cover and chill 2 hours or until firm. Cut out circles, 1 1/2 in to 2 in wide. I didn't have a cookie cutter so I used one of Tristan's insulated sippy cups. Brush a large jellyroll pan or baking sheet with melted butter. Place grit rounds on pan and bake for 15 minutes. Turn grits and bake for 45 minutes more. Set aside. Up to this point, you can make this ahead of time. I baked the grit toasts and then put them in a baggie in the fridge until later. There should be anywhere between 45-60 rounds. I had halved the recipe and made about 30.

In large bowl, combine cream cheese and half and half, stirring until combined. Stir in cheese, parsley, shrimp and the garlic powder and hot sauce. Top each grits toast with some shrimp mixture, then top with a little cheddar. It does stay on top nicely. Broil for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned and heated through.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mediterranean Quiche

I just made this for the first time for the Mother's Day party. It was excellent and GONE! If you like savory then you'll love this. I did not make my crust from scratch so if you do, visit the link below. Otherwise, just buy a store bought pie crust such as Pillsbury roll out crust. This was even easier because I made it ahead of time, froze it, and then re-heated it the day of the party for about 40 minutes.,,FOOD_9936_19035,00.html

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sliced yellow onion
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1/4 pound mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 ounces oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup grated Gruyere
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Pillsbury Pie Crust
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and zucchini and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until the liquid is rendered and the vegetables are wilted, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, basil, and thyme and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool. In a bowl, beat the eggs and half-and-half together. Add the salt, pepper, grated Gruyere, and crushed red pepper. Spoon the vegetable mixture into the prepared piecrust, pour in the egg mixture, and crumble the goat cheese on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until set. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day Extravaganza

I haven't posted in a while because times were very hectic with preparing for our Mother's Day party. And since then I have had a mild case of post party depression but I am finally coming back to normal!!

Mother's Day was amazing!!!!! It was everything I wanted it to be & more. All the hard work paid off & everyone had a great time. Thanks to my husband, we have lotsa pictures to capture the day. Now that it is over I can divulge the special things I did. First, I want to say I was very honored that our friends & family chose to come to our house so I wanted to make them feel extra special. I took quotes about moms by some famous people, then decorated & placed them on cardstock & put them everywhere - in the bathroom next to some flowers, by the bar area & the food, even hanging from some plants. I showed my geekness when I fell in love with.....paper easels which held my quotes up on the tables. There were bunches of flowers & each Mom received a corsage when she arrived. I also made up gift bags for each Mom which included a little bottle of wine, a candle I bought from Publix & then decorated differently, a Starbucks gift card for $5, a package of gift tags, & a chocolate bar. We also had a raffle to give away a bouquet of flowers, a bodyworks type of package with lotion & bath soap, & a gift bag of flowers.

We all just had a wonderful time. The weather was beautiful, everyone was feeling great & the food and cocktails were in abundance. Enjoy the pics.....

All the ladies had a corsage waiting for them when they arrived.

My Mom & Terry's Mom - We surprised them with a Harry & David mixed bag of things plus our first ever professional family photo of me, Terry and Tristan.

Tammy & Me - we enjoyed this day even more because this was right at the end of our very successful buddy weight loss challenge. She was my motivator & on this very day I got below my goal weight, so I surprised her with a gift card to a spa.

Nice large spot of water right before everyone came. I remember being frantic at finishing up last minute details. While I have stupid smile on my face & my lips have all but vanished I was happy I fit into this dress I wore on my honeymoon 5 years prior.

Flowers were placed everywhere as well as the quotes I decorated & placed on cardstock.

These paper easels from the craft store were just what I needed.

The 3 quotes above were my favorite that I decorated & placed on cardstock. Click to enlarge & see the beautiful sayings.
More ambience.
Above: I put a little bouquet of flowers in a small vase & then placed it in a gift bag. I also loved how this purple quote turned out.
I actually played around with the bar area for at least 2 weeks prior to the day. The Key Lime Martini was the featured drink so I had a little note propped up with directions on what to do so guests wouldn't have to wonder.

The menu - grilled pork tenderloin, fried asparagus, eggplant parmigiana (made by mom Gloria), potato gratin, mediterranean quiche from Emeril, tomato mozzarella salad, spinach dip, artichoke dip and onion pepper relish dip. For dessert - white chocolate raspberry tart, banana pudding (made by mom Sandy) & a chocolate fountain below. I labeled little tags so everyone wouldn't have to ask what was being served.

The kids really enjoyed it all!

Above are the pastel gift bags which I filled with an assortment of cutsies for the Moms to take home.

I actually decorated this plain brown gift bag & loved how it turned out. Very simple!

I was elated at this point to actually sit down & enjoy some of my food at my new bistro table I had bought just a few days prior! It was an awesome day!!!!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

White Wine Sangria

This recipe comes from Bobby Flay. I've been making it for my sister's annual wine tasting party (which is responsible for the good times of over 60 people) for the past few years. First year, everyone kept asking who made this, who made this? Now, everyone knows. I quadruple the amount to make about 3 gallons for the party and it all goes. This year, my sister even mentioned it in her invitation. Whoah baby, it's famous!!! Just don't ask me how I transport 3 gals from Orlando to Liquordale, I mean Lauderdale.

2 bottles of dry white wine **
3/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup triple sec
3/4 cup simple syrup ( equal amounts sugar and water heated until dissolved)
1 cup peach nectar
A bunch of fruit you like - I use a carton of strawberries, sliced thick like little hearts, lemons and oranges both sliced in rounds, and once I tried cantaloupe which was very good. I also use green apples. The colors look very nice.

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate, covered, 2 hours or up to 2 days. You can serve over ice.

** For the first couple of years I was buying $8 bottles of wines but this got expensive with the amount I make so this past year I actually bought the big jugs of wine by Carlo Rossi, the name is Rhine white wine. It was a fraction of the price and everyone enjoyed it as much as before. I didn't have a problem taking a risk here because my hubby who has expensive taste in everything else will ONLY drink the Burgundy red wine by Carlo Rossi in the big jug. He loves it.

We finally found a perfect 3 gal tub to fit the wine but this year I may have to get one of these. I found the picture on a fellow blogger's site and loved it. I found out there is one at Sam's Club. How pretty does this look?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Potato Gratin

This is another recipe from Tyler Florence -
BEST I EVER HAD!!!! Some may not be gratin or scalloped potato people but this is not as rich as some similar dishes. It's just right!!!!!!!

2 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
2 cups heavy cream
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
Leaves from 4 fresh thyme sprigs
3 tblspns chopped fresh chives plus a little for garnish
1 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
Sea salt & pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350. In large bowl combine all the ingredients tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a casserole dish, flatten a bit with a spatula and bake for 40 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with a few more fresh chives.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Slow Cooked Squash & Zucchini

This recipe comes from Tyler Florence who has never let me down before. It's so simple to prepare and the flavors go so well together. You can omit the butter which I started doing to be more healthy and instead drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Or cut butter in half at least. It seemed like a lot to me. You won't miss the butter but the fat will miss your butt, I promise!

2 yellow squash, cut in circles
2 zucchini, cut in circles
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and ground pepper
Leaves from 3 fresh thyme sprigs (use 1 tsp of ground if not fresh)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or Parmesan-Romano or any variation you like
1 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 stick of butter (unsalted and melted)

Pre-heat oven to 350. Toss squash and zucchini with all ingredients except butter. Put mixture in casserole dish and drizzle with melted butter. Bake for 40 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Vodka Espresso Cocktail

This is a wonderful after dinner martini. One is perfect, alright, maybe two! I made this for my parents one night & when they called me the next day to thank me for a great evening my dad just laughed at how he was up all night. I immediately thought of the effect they may have had on my Mom. Whoah TMI Dad, but turns out it was just the caffeine that kept him awake!

1 oz premium vodka
1 oz cold espresso (I buy mine at Starbucks and just refrigerate it)
1/2 oz Tia Maria
1/2 oz Kahlua

Pour ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. This makes one drink.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Stuffed Zucchini

These are pretty unique and went over very well when I last made them. The original recipe called for 35 minutes of total cooking time and they were a little too soft so I decreased it to 25 minutes, 10 minutes in the 1st phase and 15 minutes on the 2nd phase. Judge accordingly.

4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 tblspn olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 1/2 cups of feta cheese
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Pre-heat over to 475. Using a tablespoon, scoop out zucchini centers to form "canoes," leaving a 1/4" border. Roughly chop centers and set aside. Arrange zucchini cut sides down on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and pepper and cook, stirring, until soft for 3-5 minutes. Add chopped zucchini, cook and stir until most liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Fold in feta and tomatoes.

Fill zucchini boats with vegetable-feta mixture, and bake until top is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Lift with spatula and serve.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Oriential Pork Wrappers

These little bites of goodness are one of my favorite appetizers of all times. They're delicious and easy to make but people will ask how you made them because they look so cute, like they came from the kitchen of Dim Sum Yums, or whatever :) I need to try these with chicken sausage sometime.

(1) 12oz pkg pork sausage
(2-3) green onions (scallions), diced (I use a bit more)
(1) tblspn soy sauce (1) tblspn hoisin sauce
(1/2 tsp) minced garlic (I use 1 tsp) LOVE GARLIC!
(24) square wonton wrappers
(1) small bowl of water

In bowl, combine all ingredients except wrappers. Mix well. Place a few wonton wrappers on clean surface and brush edges of water or use fingers. Place a little more than a tspn of filling in center of wrapper. Recipes call for 1 tbslpn but I find this to be too much. I use less so it makes more than 24 wrappers which works out because the packages usually have more than 24 anyway. Gather edges of wrapper together to make a pouch. I don't totally enclose the filling but some recipes say to. It reminds me of a little pouch at the end of a stick carried by a little boy who was planning to run away. Used to see this in cartoons all the time.

Place a collapsible metal steamer rack in a large wide pot. Fill pot with 1/2 inch of water. Spray steamer rack with nonstick spray. Bring water to a simmer. Working in batches, arrange dumplings on rack an inch apart. Cover pot with lid and steam dumplings until cooked thoroughly, about 8 minutes. Watch the water level and add more as needed. When I did not have a steamer I would just use a large pan and place a cookie rack or toaster oven rack across the pan and then cover with tin foil.

Serve with soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili garlic sauce (my fav) or hot chinese style mustard.